Conservation Update, 2017 Mar | Coast to Cleveland Corridor, Aliso Creek – Ranch at Laguna Beach, SR-241/SR-91

From the Desk of Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair


OCCNPS has commented on some recent Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and similar documents.

Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor – West Alton Parcel Development Plan draft EIR: OCCNPS is one of several signatories to Laguna Greenbelt’s letter extensively detailing this Plan’s numerous flaws. Laguna Greenbelt spearheads a coalition of nine enviro groups (including OCCNPS) with the goal to establish the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor that will link the 22,000‐acre Coastal and the 150,000‐acre‐plus Central portions of the Natural Communities Conservation Program (NCCP) of OC. The long‐planned six‐mile‐long corridor is badly needed to allow safe passage of wildlife between the two areas. Such passage is essential to maintain healthy biodiversity, especially in the Coastal portion.

ACTION NOW: Laguna Greenbelt needs volunteers to help analyze images taken by cameras along the Corridor route. Training will be provided. To help, contact or .

Aliso Creek – Ranch at Laguna Beach: Final Restoration Plan for Tree Trimming/Removal Activities in Aliso Creek, The Ranch at Laguna Beach, in Resolution to Coastal Commission Violation No. V‐5‐15‐0125 [Revised January 23, 2017]: Action on this Coastal Act violation was brought by the Sierra Club Hobo‐Aliso Task Force, joined by Sea and Sage Audubon. OCCNPS concurs that there is an important principle here: landowners/managers in the Coastal Zone must abide by the Coastal Act.

The Plan, covering the 3/4‐mile‐long riparian area in the golf course (old Ben Brown’s), has the potential to achieve stable protection and restoration of native vegetation in this much‐abused reach of Aliso Creek. Realization of that potential will depend on how well the management protocols are carried out over time.

Our comment letter also brings the nearby population of the emergent invasive Boneseed, and our Emergent Invasive Program, to the Coastal Commission’s attention.

SR‐241/SR‐91 Tolled Express Lanes Connector Project Draft Supplemental EIR/EIS: This project would require that ownership of 5 acres along the northern edge of the 1,000+‐ acre Gypsum Canyon Nature Preserve be permanently transferred to CalTrans. The 5 acres is a steep‐ish slope above the existing SR‐91, with little native vegetation or habitat value. OCCNPS opposes the transfer in principle, but does understand the practical‐ management aspects of such an ownership change in this case.

The document includes detailed information regarding application of various laws, ordinances, and regulations (LORS) that apply to situations in which park land is taken for non‐park use. The Gypsum Canyon Preserve area was protected in 2006 as part of a (federal) National Natural Landmark. Since being so designated, the land has been donated to OC Parks, so is now protected under both the (federal) Section 4(f) [of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966] and the (CA) Park Preservation Act. The Act requires that compensation be made in such ownership transfers. What that compensation might consist of is not stated in the Draft EIR/EIS, but can be a land swap and/or financial compensation.


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